Pakistan’s most capped player Waseem Ahmed has expressed his concern over the hockey team’s chances of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup to be held in the Netherlands, a statement that came after the Greenshirts missed a golden opportunity at the recently-concluded Hockey World League (HWL) in Malaysia.
Top three teams at the HWL would have earned entry to the World Cup with Pakistan well on course after remaining unbeaten in the group stage and setting up a quarter-final showdown against South Korea.
However, it all went wrong for the Greenshirts as they lost back-to-back matches, before beating South Africa to settle seventh place at the eight-team HWL. They now need to win the Asia Cup to confirm their berth at the World Cup.
Waseem, who missed the event due to injury following an accident, said Pakistan failed to capitalise on a good start.
“I was heartbroken when I saw Pakistan lose the quarters,” the former captain told The Express Tribune. “They were playing so well against South Korea [leading 2-0] but suddenly lost their grip. The team failed to manage the opposition in the second-half.
“We should have won that match because we got the perfect start. We finished top in our group; Korea finished last. But we failed to capitalise on that.”
Desperate for fifth World Cup appearance
The 36-year old, armed with over 400 international appearances and having represented Pakistan in four World Cup events (1998 to 2010), said he was desperate to play the global event for a fifth successive time.
“Pakistan have never sat out of the World Cup during my career. But now we have come on the verge after missing the best chance to qualify.
“The Asia Cup is going to be tough as teams like India, Korea and Malaysia will give their best shot to become the only Asian nation to play the World Cup.”
However, Waseem was quick to add that the task to surpass the Asian counterparts was not impossible.
“We’ve been doing this for quite some time. We won the 2010 Asian Games gold medal and the Asian Champions Trophy recently. Our world ranking was the best among the Asian teams before the HWL.
“All we need to do is improve on our weaknesses and play up to our potential.”
On road to recovery
Waseem, whose absence according to the team management hurt the side in HWL, said he was recovering well from the shoulder injury. The former captain was a part of the HWL squad and attended the team’s training camp arranged in Abbottabad but was ruled out after suffering a road accident.
“There’s a little pain left but I have started fitness training.
“I will start hockey training in a week and hopefully will join the camp whenever it starts in a couple of weeks. I am desperate to come back on the field and regain my rhythm.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2013.
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